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Transformers Ongoing #31 Review

Written by on Dec 17, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  No Comments »

Transformers Ongoing #31

Rating: 4/5
Publisher Name: IDW
Publisher Website: www.idwpublishing.com/

Writer: Mike Costa
Pencils: Casey Coller
Colors: Joana Lafuente
Number of Pages: 32
Price: $ 3.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: T+ TEENS AND UP – Appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children.

Publisher’s Blurb:
CHAOS is over. The future holds many mysteries, but the past can never be forgotten. As Ironhide looks back at what was, he comes to realize that it may hold the key to what lies ahead. A new peace has settled, and a new time has come for the Autobots, for the Decepticons… for Cybertron.

Reviewer’s Comments:
Chaos has reigned over the universe of the Transformers for twelve issues. This storyline was te culmination of events dating back to this series’ first issue. Issue 31 is not the conclusion to this storyline; that was last issue. This issue acts as an epilogue to these events. It is a quiet retrospective issue which looks back at the long run of Transformers over at IDW. But it is also more than that. It also acts to tease events that may happen in future issues when the series splits into two brand new series that will launch in January. At the center of this issue is Alpha Trion and Ironhide. Ironhide plays the part of the worn down soldier who has fought too many battles, and lost too many friends. However, while he has grown tired of fighting, he feels that he is only a soldier, made for battle, and has no place in a world at peace. Mike Costa, the series’ writer, does a good job of focusing on Ironhide as a character. Alpha Trion plays the contented old Transformer who is happy with his current role as confidant, and storyteller. He is also a teacher, mentor, etc. This issue really belongs to Ironhide though. Mike Costa does a really good job of showing that there are many sides to Ironhide. This is something that the movies completely ignore and the old cartoon did not really have the time to tell. Costa does a good job of lowering the volume on this issue. The right note is hit. It is a solemn, and also a fitting memorial to what has a been a solid series. It also plays as a great commentary on war and a post-war world where autobots/people who have never seen war, tend to look at those times as some type of glory days. Soldiers know better though. As Ironhide says, “These are the great years. All of this. How do they not see that?” Its the way with people I suppose.

The art by Coller is also very well done in this issue. One, and my only beef, with this series has been the artwork. While the pages do look very colorful and exciting and beautiful on their own, it was near impossible, at times, to tell what was happening on any one page. In other words, they looked good as art, but horrible in furthering the story. Coller does a great job of keeping each page nice and clean. You know exactly what is happening and yet the quality of each page is not diminished. The issue is also loaded with splash pages. These pages are always depicting action sequences, and yet they are clean and clear and still are of quality. The whole series, and the future series, can take a note from this play book. Do what you want on any page, but they HAVE to make sense. Comic books are a storytelling medium afterall.

The colors by Lafuente are also fantastic. Nice bright colors. There are well done contrasts between light and dark. All of the transformers’ various color tones really stsndout and look great together.

Overall: great work by all.




Pilot Season: Seraph #1 Review

Written by on Nov 19, 2011
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Pilot Season: Seraph #1

Rating: 3/5
Publisher Name: Image/Top Cow
Publisher Website: http://www.imagecomics.com/

Writer: Phil Hester with Lance Briggs
Pencils: Jose Luis
Inks: Sandro Ribeiro
Colors: David Ocampo and Bill Farmer
Number of Pages: 28
Price: $ 3.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: PARENTAL ADVISORY – 15 years and older. Similiar to T+ but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery.

Publisher’s Blurb:
PILOT SEASON RETURNS! TAKE CONTROL!
The angelic warrior now known only as Seraph was once a sinner. After living a life of selfishness and sin, personal tragedy drove him to kill himself. Plucked on his way to Hell by Heaven, the man was made Heaven’s soldier in an endless battle. Charged with fighting an ancient war, but bound by God’s law, can Seraph triumph over opponents not restricted in the same way and regain his faith in the process?

Reviewer’s Comments:
Seraph is the newest comic in Top Cow’s pilot series. While not the strongest of entries, it is certainly an interesting one. Strangely enough, the story actually starts with the main character committing suicide. No, this is not a flashback. Desean, the story’s protagonist, seems devout in his belief in God; however, his prayers go routinely unanswered. Imagine knowing in your heart of hearts that there is a God, but at the same time believing that this God does not give a care about you? What would you do? Desean, in a moment of weakness, decides to blow his brains out. While not explicitly shown in all its graphic detail, enough is shown for some real impact. Obviously, the story does not end there. His soul is redirected from death by a mysterious woman with some type of special power. Who she really is will be revealed towards the story’s end in a really well written scene. In many ways her character feels far more interesting than Desean’s. When Desean awakens he finds that he now has special gifts, signified by a flaming blue cross on his back. Yes, according to this series God is Christian/Catholic…sorry to those of you of different faiths. As the story enfolds the reader, and Desean/Seraph, finds that his powers work like a cross between Spiderman’s “spidey sense” and a Green Lantern’s power ring. This makes more sense when you read it. Along the way, Seraph, meets a character surprisingly similar to Spawn’s Cogliostro, and a child zombifying/eating? spiderlike demon. By the way, the demon looks really cool, and legitimately scary. The issue end with a second issue plainly in mind.

So, why the harsh rating? The issue feels like a retread of so many comics that have been out before. Part Witchblade, part Spawn, some poorly defined powers. These powers seem potentially infinite with its current guidelines. It is really hard to feel concern, or invested in a character who is at his power level. Even more so when you realize the character is already dead. Furthermore, Desean does not seem overly identifiable or likeable. His demeanor is far too harsh, Punisher-like, to draw your sympathies. I can’t help but think that Hester would have been better off if he made Desean a little warmer. Again, the female character is far more interesting and likeable. I did really enjoy the female’s diner scene. Top notch dialogue in that scene. Hester does have the action moving at a good clip, but again, the powers are a little too ill-defined to draw you into the story.

The art for Seraph feels pretty similar to most other books published by Image. Luis’ art is very serviceable and he does an excellent job with the villain. Like I previously stated, the villain does look seriously nasty. The expressions on the characters’ faces often work to good effect, although Desean’s face seems overly stoic. Maybe Michael Jai White will place his role in a future movie. Luis’ strongest scenes appear one page one and two when Desean is first contemplating suicide and then finally going through with it. This is probably the lone scene that really makes you feel for Desean.

The real highlight of this book are the colors by David Ocampo and Bill Farmer. Great contrasts between the light and darker scenes throughout the comic. The blue cross also looks very impressive. They picked the perfect shade of blue for it. The panels where Desean ascends also contain very choice colors. All the colors are very vivid.
All in all. Good potential, but it is really missing something. Perhaps warmth from its main character.




The Darkness #94 Review

Written by on Oct 28, 2011
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The Darkness #94

Rating: 4/5
Publisher Name: Image/Top Cow
Publisher Website: http://www.imagecomics.com/

Writer: Phil Hester
Pencils: Shelden Mitchell
Inks: Rick Basaldua, John Livesay
Colors: Felix Serrano
Number of Pages: 32
Price: $ 2.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: PARENTAL ADVISORY – 15 years and older. Similiar to T+ but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery.

Publisher’s Blurb:
The Darkness declares all out war against its most rebellious bearer, Jackie Estacado! With a small group of loyal allies, Jackie must face down an army of doppelgangers, a scorned woman from his past, and the very source of his own power

Reviewer’s Comments:
The Darkness was once a supporting character of a series called Witchblade. Ultimately, the character proved popular and intriguing enough to warrant his own title. Now..after 94 issues..the character is on a collision course to issue 100. Issue 94 sees its star, Jackie Estacado, at odds, with the very essence of The Darkness itself. In a strange twist of morality, Jackie has decided to forsake the Darkness. In turn The Darkness has deemed Jackie too weak to be its vessel/bearer. War ensues. The Darkness has decided to spread a virus, based on its own make-up, to infect the populace. Jackie decides to fight against. What ensues are pages of action, long expositions and a few surprise appearences.

In reading The Darkness, I felt a little like I was reading the old issues of Spawn, as that series approached issue 100. Jackie has a girl, named Elle, an enemy called Angelus(sounds like Angela), a friend(?) who was a former bearer of the Darkness who offers sage advice and has lived for thousands of years(a little Cogliosto(sp?)) But the saving grace of this issue is that, unlike with Spawn, Hester has made sure to really focus on the character of Jackie. Even amogst pages of destruction, Jackie feels like a person. How does one make a character like Jackie accessible? By re-introducing Elle who was created by Jackie to be his love. She is also made from the Darkness, and is the mother of his children. There is a vulnerability to Elle, which helps to humanize Jackie. Hester manages to tell Elle’s backstory in such a way where you really feel for her. This is not easy to do, since she isn’t really a person. You get the sense that Jackie is both frightened by Elle, completely freaked out by her, but also cares for her in some weird way. This adds dimension to Jackie, and also creates some interesting tensions between the two characters.  They are certainly the oddest couple in comics. It is also interesting that Jackie seems to care enough about other people to attempt to beat back the Darkness virus. For a former hitman, druglord, that seems to be a major sign of growth.  A few more darkness/zombies scenes would have been helpful. Kind of like a superheroes Walking Dead. The story does have one setback, but one that was the same with Spawn, the powers of the characters are too ill-defined. Jackie seems near invulnerable, the anti-Jackie is

 

 But what really makes this story hum, is the character of Jackie’s alter ego. Something created by the Darkness, that looks like Jackie, but without any sensibilities. A thing of pure evil. What ensues has the appropriate level of violence and suspense to keep you guessing. The only negative is the Mcguffin introduced about 2/3 through the issue. All in all, Hester makes you WANT to read the next issue which is really the whole point.

The art was also very well done. Check out page seven. As much as the writing, it is the art that really makes you feel that Elle is human and vulnerable. Mitchell shows his range by creating some great visuals, like on the splash page on 19. The darklings(?) look appropriately sinister and The Darkness appears seriously badass. Kudos also belong to Mitchell for pages 24-25. Again they are appealing to the eye, and are really exciting. A lot of this(for pages 24-25) has to do with the great coloring. The sudden bright colors really explode off the page. It is the contrast, with the predominant dark colors that make these two colors really stand out.

All in all, fun read. Good action, good characterizations.




Darkwing Duck 15 Review

Written by on Aug 21, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  1 Comment »

Darkwing Duck 15

Rating: 4/5
Publisher Name: Boom!
Publisher Website: www.boom-studios.com

Writer: Ian Brill
Pencils: James Silvani
Colors: Lisa Moore
Number of Pages: 24
Price: $ 3.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: A – Appropriate for age 9 and up.

Publisher’s Blurb:
It’s a super-powered stampede as waves and waves of brand new baddies pop up all over St. Canard, in the midst of a mayoral race you have to see to believe! How many more meta human menaces are gonna show up to crash Darkwing’s political party? Count ‘em all in “The Ballot of Darkwing and Launchpad!” Fan-favorite writer Ian Brill and superstar artist James Silvani bring you another fantastic issue of DARKWING DUCK!

Reviewer’s Comments:
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Darkwing Duck is the opportunity it gave me to relive me youth. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Darkwing Duck television series. It not only provided an enjoyable spoof of Batman, but it also contained real entertainment. Over time the show would evolve beyond its existence as a spoof, and with its ever growing gallery of rogues, it became a true entity in and of itself. Now the Darkwing Duck comic series exists in much the same way. On the one hand it acts as a conduit to our past, while on the other it successfully utilizes and expands upon the television series. I doubt anyone who has viewed the television series will not smile when they read the words, “Let’s get dangerous” in this issue, as I the voice of D.W. immediately pops into our consciousness. To read this issue is to feel like you are watching the show.
This is due in no small way to the writing talents of Ian Brill. DW #15 is an entertaining yarn about two friends, Launchpad and DW, who find themselves embroiled in a political campaign against one another. Initially their attentions for entering the race are noble. DW entered so he could find his lost love, Morgana Macawber. But the longer the campaign continues, the more it becomes a matter of winning, and ego for DW. Launchpad enters the race to ensure that DW does not give up his nighttime activities, but over time, his reasons become as shallow as DW’s. The story is really a fable about politics and how even those who enter with good intentions soon find themselves corrupted by the process. The story is told simply and in a way that children can understand it. For that reason alone, I recommend this issue to children. It’s fun and they may even learn something from reading it. Also for the kids, there are enough gags to keep them interested. Older fans will find other little nuggets of entertainment within this issue. There is a surprise appearance from one of our Ducktale characters, and what HAS to be an homage to Tim Capello and the “Lost Boys” movie. Anyone who has seen that movie, tell me that the scene of Launchpad playing the sax does not remind you of it.
But this story is not only political satire, and once the true villain behind the campaign schemes, the issue turns to action, although in true cartoon style. The big baddie, will also bring to the older reader’s minds a certain Spiderman villain. Also, several of the villain will be known, if not all, to fans of the television show. Once again this shows Brill’s knowledge and respect for the show that the comic is based from. The action is not very violent so parents should feel safe allowing their children to read this story. The last page also offers the promise of a very action packed next issue, but, again, some symbolism about today’s voters.

The artwork by James Silvani is also very good. The characters appear how they should, and is not at all jarring for fans of the TV show, or fans of Ducktales. Perhaps my favorite panel of art is the one that shows DW’s vision of St. Canard if he was Mayor.
The colors of Lisa Moore are also bright and reader friendly. They perfectly match the style of the show and the tone for this issue. None of the colors feel muddled in any way. Take a look at page twelve and observe all the different colors and tones that are used. It’s not easy to do that and make sure that all the pictures are clear.

Overall: Very entertaining story. Don’t expect Shakespeare and you will enjoy this trip down memory lane.




What’s the Deal with Matt Fraction?

Written by on Aug 3, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Interviews, Special Features  |  2 Comments »

What's the Deal with Matt Fraction?

Wordsmith of Fear

by Jeffrey Haas

This photo was created by © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

            In 2010, he toppled the economic juggernaut known as Stark Enterprises. Soon after he brought the Gods of Asgard to their knees, but his gravest act still looms upon the horizon.  In 2011, he will command a storm of fear to rain down and devastate the heroes of the Marvel Universe. The architect of these fell tidings is named Matt Fraction.

I recently had the opportunity to  speak with him concerning the events that would ultimately culminate in what is sure to be the event of 2011, named Fear Itself. But first I wanted to know what first lit the fire within him to become a comic book scribe. Like many of us the comic book bug bit Matt Fraction at a young age and its hold never relinquished. As he tells it, “I’ve always read comics. Spider-Man, Batman, and Mad Magazine were all favorites early on, then toy and TV and movie tie-ins, like G.I. Joe or Transformers or Star Wars, then works that stand independent from the superhero mainstream, like Love and Rockets and American Flagg!” As is often expressed in my interviews, the love of comics and writing are not elements that, in and of themselves, can lead to a career in comics. Another ingredient must exist for the formula of success to congeal. Clearly, Mr. Fraction knew the blueprints, and the missing ingredient is dedication. “I had to write and to tell stories by any means available and put it in the hands of people that could hire me. I studied my idiom and worked on my craft in dozens of notebooks nobody will ever see and keep working and working and working. The key for me to becoming a writer was to write, every day.” The hard work paid off in ways most comic book fans can only dream of when he landed a gig with Marvel.

The immensity of the honor bestowed upon him is not lost on Mr. Fraction who told me, “it is strange, when you think about it. These guys are going to outlive me, y’know?… It’s funny, but I can’t allow myself to think about how many people are reading whatever it is I’m working on. If I do that I’ll become too interested in being liked. I don’t read reviews, I don’t chase down mentions of my name, I don’t google myself to see what people are feeling about my work if I can help it. Everybody wants to be liked, and I think if I was too aware of audience size and reaction, I’d start writing to be liked. Which isn’t writing at all, it’s pandering.” If Mr. Fraction was to google his name, he would find that the web is abuzz with references to his work, which  includes present stints with Iron Man, Thor, and, until recently, The Uncanny X-men; all of which regularly rank among the top twenty-five comics on Diamond’s monthly sales charts.  There is no doubt that what he writes gets people’s attention.

How does he do it? By pushing his characters to their very limits. Take Iron Man for instance. With Iron Man, Mr. Fraction decided to do something with Stark’s character that previously would have been considered unthinkable- he demolished Stark Enterprises.  This change in the status quo of Tony Stark is in no way temporary, and will be for as long as Mr. Fraction has any say in the matter. According to him, “[This] has made him stronger, lighter, faster, smarter, and better. Tony Stark is freed from the capitalist, corporate, industrialized twentieth century at last.” These changes are all part of the process of exploring what makes Tony worthy of wearing the suit. “The armor is Tony and Tony is the armor. As for what makes him worthy? I think that’s what the book is about, ultimately, month in and month out. A constant process of reevaluating that worth and testing it.  What makes him STILL worthy might be a better question.”

Recently, Iron Man celebrated its 500th issue. As Mr. Fraction describes its plot, “We get to see the end of the story. We get to see what happens if Tony loses.  The pieces start falling into place.”  The issue sold over 50,000 copies, proving that after fifty years the character remains relevant. With an Avengers and third Iron Man movie looming on the horizon, the character is set to achieve a sustained visibility of the likes few characters have ever experienced.

The character of Thor is also experiencing a period of rebuilding after his home of Asgard fell victim to the Sentry during Marvel’s last mega-event. As he did with Tony Stark, Fraction is also using this opportunity to explore the depth of Thor’s character. How one sets about making a God identifiable presents an interesting writing challenge. So what are these qualities that readers can relate to? “His relationships with others. The overbearing father-figure; the black-sheep relative; the friends; the woman that loves him and that he loves… Refracting the gods through the lens of human complication is, I think, key.”

One of the ways Fraction has decided to explore these qualities of Thor is through his relationship with Loki, who has returned from death in the form of a teenager. “We’ve never seen the Loki that Thor grew up with and loved as a brother; we’ve never had a chance to fall in love with that kid ourselves…I wanted to present a different route: bring the kid back, bring the innocent trickster back. Let’s see if Thor can be a better father-figure to him than Odin; let’s see if Thor can get the boy he loved to become a good man. Or is Loki irrevocably destined to be Loki?”

But Loki is not the only character the return of whom Fraction has plotted. After all, what is Thor without Odin? In issue 618, Odin returned.  “Odin is furious…. Thor’s reign was DISASTROUS. So he’s disappointed, not only that his son wasn’t ready to stand on his own but that Thor did so poorly.  He’s reverted to an Odin we’ve not seen in a very very long time– the angry, overbearing father that wants none of his overzealous son’s meddling about. Odin has been brought back from his personal paradise to clean up his boy’s mess. Wouldn’t YOU be a little cranky?”  What happens next will be revealed in the pages of The Mighty Thor #1, which will be released around the time of the movie’s release. “The storyline is  called ‘The Galactus Seed’  that’ll be drawn by Olivier Coipel. Galactus comes for Asgard. And then this summer’s megaevent FEAR ITSELF is the biggest thing to ever happen to Thor.”

From everything I have heard so far, Fear Itself is being touted as the biggest event to hit the Marvel Universe in quite some time.  The details of  it are being kept under tight wraps.   What I was able to pry out of Mr. Fraction was that much of the story centers around a mysterious character called “The Serpent”.  So who is he? As Fraction explains, “who he is, why he is unknown, what his history is, and how he came to be forgotten, is at the very root of the story.” Perhaps a hint can be derived by the fact that the series developed from discussions surrounding, “a good Cap/Thor story to tell over the summer to take advantage of their elevated profiles thanks to the upcoming films.”

Fraction did mention that the underlying storyline behind “Fear Itself” would have underpinnings that would, “…reflect where we are right now.” In other words, the series will capitalize on our society’s heightened sense of fear that has festered thanks to our economic woes, world unrest, and the ever present jolt that is the news media.  The series attempts to answer the question of how superheroes cope with facing the manifestations of their every fear.  Events will occur in this series that will rock the Marvel U. I asked Mr. Fraction if he meant as in character deaths to which he replied, “There are people actually AT MARVEL that don’t know those answers yet.” So if your favorite comic character inhabits the 616…Be Afraid..Be VERY afraid! In the words of Mr. Fraction, “Every issue has incredible, high-intensity, hopefully-stunning events. Every single issue has a jaw-dropper, we hope. This is a capital-E Event.”

Matt Fraction Interview by Jeff Haas




Ducktales #3 Review

Written by on Jul 29, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  No Comments »

Ducktales #3

Rating: 3/5
Publisher Name: Boom!
Publisher Website: www.boom-studios.com

Writer: Warren Spector
Pencils: Jose Massaroli and Magic Eye Studios
Colors: Braden Lamb
Number of Pages: 24
Price: $ 3.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: A – Appropriate for age 9 and up.

Publisher’s Blurb:
DUCKTALES is back! The hit Disney Afternoon TV show continues to make a splash as an all new, original ongoing comic book series! Written by the creator of the EPIC MICKEY video game, Warren Spector! Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad, and the gang continue their search for the McDuck Museum artifacts that have been mysteriously deported to their original locations! Who is behind the dastardly deportation? Does Donald Duck have the answer? Find out as the man who brought you EPIC MICKEY spins an original epic DUCKTALES series!

Reviewer’s Comments:
Perhaps you remember the cartoon, perhaps not. Either way, I do want to say that, as a kid, I used to love the show. I always remember the episodes as being filled with fun and adventure. The show was actually very cleverly written for a cartoon of its time period. In some ways the show was like Indiana Jones and the Christmas Carol with ducks. While Gizmo duck ultimately became my favorite character on the show, I always enjoyed Launchpad and Uncle Scrooge. I think Spector did an excellant job of capturing the feel of the characters and the tone of the show. The storyline, that being Uncle Scrooge’s search for these lost artifacts, does feel like it came right out of the show. I think the female villain in the issue is actually meant to be an early version of Magica Dispell, but I could be mistaken. The recovery of the these lost artifacts sends Uncle Scrooge, Launchpad, and the boys on a globetrotting trek that has a nice feel of adventure to it. Once again this was a hallmark of the cartoon. The story actually opens with the boys surrounded by a tribe of duck people. The scene has a lot of humor, mostly in the form of puns, and silliness. The jokes are really meant for kids, since adults will probably find the jokes kind of tedious. Kids will enjoy the cartoon violence and girls will enjoy the fact that Webby is not thrown in the corner and is actually a pretty strong character here. Fans of the old cartoon will actually be glad to know that the Beagle Boys have a relatively big role in the issue as well. In the show they could always be counted on for some Three Stooges type comedy violence, and the issue does a solid job of continuing this tradition. The issue also contains a submarine and some of Launchpad’s famous crashes. There is also a kind of subtle lesson about how easily corruption can occur within our judicial system, but parents will probably have to point this lesson out to their children.

As far as characterizations are concerned, all of the characters are pretty two dimensional. There really are not any complexity here to talk about. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, because each behave according to their nature. Why does Uncle Scrooge play fair? Because he does. Why do the beagle boys insist on keeping their prison numbers on their chest? So the reader knows that they are villains. Its very straightforward, so kids will easily make sense of everything. Logical errots, like why Uncle Scrooge would fly around with someone who crashes every craft he pilots is never explain, but the television never pays attention to this question either. I suppose because Launchpad’s crashes are funny. I did like the dialogue on page 18 where Webby asks Launchpad how he can be operating in two places at once.This is a reference to the fact that he appears also in the Darkwing Duck comic. Launchpad’s responce to basically just ignore it is a perfect answer to every comic book fans question about how their favorite hero can appear in their own comic and their favorite team books all at the same time. Similarly to how Spiderman appears in his own comic, and the Avengers and FF. It is a fairly smart jest against the logic behind comics. Nice to see a writer recognize this and poke a little fun at it.

The artwork also continues in the tradition of the cartoon. The characters look exactly as they should. Mr. Massaroli deserves a lot of credit for managing to take the feel of the show and translating it to the comic. I can’t say that there is a single page that really pops out at me, but there is also not one panel that feels like it is less than it should be.

A credit is also deserving to Mr. Lamb for his use of bright colors. On each panel the colors play off each other very well, and is actually very pleasing to the eye.

Overall, as an adult I give it three stars. While I recognize the humor, it really did not pop for me. As a kid I am certain I would have enjoyed it more. Noble effort though by all.




The Walking Dead #87 Review

Written by on Jul 24, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  No Comments »

The Walking Dead #87

Rating: 4/5
Publisher Name: Image/Skybound
Publisher Website: http://www.imagecomics.com/

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils: Charlie Adlard
Inks: Charle Adlard
Number of Pages: 32
Price: $ 2.99
Color: Black & White
Safety Content Label: PARENTAL ADVISORY – 15 years and older. Similiar to T+ but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery.

Publisher’s Blurb:
We learn to carry on without them.

Reviewer’s Comments:
As the title suggests this issue works as another extended epilogue for the “No Way Out” storyline. The survivors of the last zombie incursion find themselves attempting to rereach a state of relative normalcy. Rick is still dealing with the potential loss of his son Carl. Rick is also trying to adjust to his new role as leader. As usual Robert Kirkman provides a whole of intriguing character moments throughout the issue. Perhaps the most interesting occurs on page thirteen during one of Rick’s phone calls to his dead wife. Obviously Lori is only speaking as a voice within Rick’s head, so what she says gives the reader a look into Rick’s state of mind. What Lori says, in contrast to her usual tone, is really quite surprising and gives the reader the succinct impression that Rick may not be as together as he wants the other survivors to believe. There are also some soap operaish interactions between Holly and Abraham. And as usual Michonne is awesome and is seen here again doing her sword zombie killer thing. I think more time needs to be spent with Michonne and her backstory. Other then Rick, she is by far the best character in this series. There is also some time spent in building up what probably will be the basis for the next storyline. There is a scene towards the end of this issue which hints at a serious level of friction building up between Rick’s group and the original members of Woodbury. Maybe a revolt will occur? Hard to say. Seems TWD’s MO. The last page with Carl seems to echo, a little, the first issue of the series. I am working hard to not give anything away in my reviews. Overall the writing in this issue is top notch as always filled with important character moments. The dialogue is crisp and feels realistic. Every moment feels genuine and logically follows from the previous events.

The art by Charlie Adlard is also extremely good. I wonder if most readers realize the difficulty in drawing a cast of this book’s size and making each character look distinct from one another, without the use of costumes or insignia? It is not easy. Adlard pulls it off every time. My favorite pages of this issue are pages twelve and thirteen which are the ones where Rick is talking to Lori. The atmosphere looks right and the mood created by the angles and shading make the dialogue almost unnecessary in conveying to the reader what Rick is thinking.

In summary, another great issue of TWD. Again low on action. High on character.




Irredeemable #27 Review

Written by on Jul 5, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  3 Comments »

Irredeemable #27

Rating: 3/5
Publisher Name: Boom!
Publisher Website: www.boom-studios.com/

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Peter Krause, Diego Barreto
Colors: Zac Atkinson
Number of Pages: 24
Price: $ 3.99
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: PARENTAL ADVISORY – 15 years and older. Similiar to T+ but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery.

Publisher’s Blurb:
Plutonian’s revenge on the Paradigm and Earth is becoming frighteningly real! A battle wages in the heart of a distant sun that will decide the fate of Earth’s heroes and villains. And the tenuous team of super-genius adversaries, Qubit and Modeus, are caught in the middle of a Mad God’s wrath. This is a can’t-miss issue of Mark Waid’s multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated epic superhero series!

Reviewer’s Comments:
I will again preface this review by saying that I have never read a prior issue of this series. I was, however, very familar with Mark Waid and loved his work with Crossgen and have enjoyed his recent run on Ruse. I had heard of the series and all the accolades that it has received. While I am familiar with the title, my knowledge of the main characters has been developed completely through hearsay. I also do want to add that this issue is DEFINITELY not a good jumping on point for new readers. For most of the issue I was thoroughly confused about what was happening. I do not the powers, or the background, of any of the characters to any real degree, nor do I know their power limits, weaknesses(if any), etc. As such, my enjoyment of the issue was lessoned due to this confusion. The caption in the inside cover basically positions the Plutonian as the anti-Superman. Maybe a bit like Marvel’s Sentry. Or a version of the Authority’s Apollo if just one more thread had snapped within.

The character of the Plutonian is kind of interesting, but, since he is a villain, it is difficult to connect with the character. I do feel that connecting with a character is paramount if a reader wishes to invest themselves within the story. What the reader instead receives is a look at what true power wielded without conscious looks like. This adds a good bit of forboding throughout the whole story. The Plutonian knows what he wants and he seems to have an unwavering resolve. It would have helped me to know why he went rogue. Perhaps it also gives the treaded upon among us a chance to live vicariously through a character who is basically a God on Earth. My preference, however, is towards likeability.

That being said, onward to the story. The primary thrust of the story is produced through the prison break of the main characters as they attempt to reach Earth. There is an interesting sequence where the Pluntonian is knocked so hard that he moves back in time. Yeah, its over the top, but kind of cool. Also, not surprisingly, something that will be a major plot point later on. There are also two other characters called Qubit and Modeus. I am not very clear who Modeus is other than the fact that he seems to be in a relationship of some type with the Plutonian. This is discussed at great length. Quibit is a bit Lex Lutherish. Maybe Modeus is this series’ Braniac? After some exposition which relates to a reveal, there is some impressive violence. Most of this seems to be jumping from one story thread to another. The ending, which I will not reveal, feels a little bit like gobblygook. Basically it is just a narrative tool to move the series to its next storyline, and obviously, the previous story points come full circle. I think the story is attempting to rely on our rooting for the Plutonian. If so, it never happens. If the character is not going to be likeable, then he needs to be at least charisimatic. It would help if the character did not look so plain. Except for the last pages which does look really cool.

The art is okay. The best way to describe it is serviceable. Non of the bad guys, look overly scary. Page six where the Plutonian is knocked back through time is really well done though. You can almost feel the power behind the punch. On page sixteen when the Plutonian is punching a hole in someone’s chest, it could use some more horrific elements. It just looks less impressive than it could have. The strongest aspect of the art is the color. There are some beautiful colors amongst these pages. Like the greens and blue in the scenes with Quibit and Modeus. I also like the red in the background during the previously mentioned punch.

Overall, not a bad issue, but not a great one. I found myself wishing for more from it.


Issues - Comic Book Column by Jeff Haas


DCNU: Why? And Will It Work?

Written by on Jun 28, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Columns, Issues - Comic Book Column  |  3 Comments »

Prognostication and Repercussions of the New DCU

by Jeff Haas

            Throughout fandom, fans are still reeling from DC Entertainment’s announcement on May 31st, that they would be rebooting their entire universe and restarting every series with a new number one issue. Even longstanding titles such as Action Comics(904 issues) and Detective Comics(881 issues) would end their mythic runs, and have their titles encumbered with the unremarkable nomenclature of “volume two”.  How will this affect the industry? Can DC’s scheme possibly succeed in an ever-dwindling marketplace? This article will utilize historical precedent, statistics, and analysis in an attempt to prognosticate the viability and repercussions of DCE’s bold maneuver.

            Since DCE’s announcement, they have slowly rolled out tidbits of information about what shape their massive reboot will take. What we know is that in September DCE will be distributing fifty-two new titles, in what Dan Didio is calling a “revamp” and others are calling a “reboot”.  To use Didio’s exact wording in describing the new DC, “”This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience,” (Truitt). Further details that have emerged about the DCNU suggest that, although many of the characters will be de-aged, several storylines set in the current continuity such as, “Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Identity Crisis, Death in the Family, and Killing Joke are still part of the DCU history. In fact, editors said, some events in those stories are specifically referenced in September,” (Rogers).  Other important continuity details such as Clark Kent being married to Louis Lane and the original origins of the Justice League of America will be wiped from the DC lore. Also, according to reports, all the surviving continuity, from the death of Jason Todd to Blackest Night, will have occurred, “only five years in the past,” (Rogers).  This five year period is being described as the “Dawning of the Age of Superheroes” and will be chronicled within the pages of Action Comics and Justice League of America. Furthermore, with all 52 titles having been announced and described, there does not seem to be any mention of the Justice Society of America which means no mention of Jay Garrick, Alan Scott or Ted Grant. DC has also announced that, starting with Justice League #1, all of their new comics will be simultaneously released in a digital format.

            So what is DC’s game plan here? From all indications, it appears that the “rebooting” of the DCU has been devised as a strategy to draw in new readers. The number one issues are meant to create the ever desired “jumping on point”.  The concept behind this is the idea that there are readers out there who want to buy comics, or specifically DCE’s comics, but have just not had the opportunity to come aboard.  In other words, the current issues have proven too complicated, due to their adherence to continuity, to allow for new readers to gain a handle on the storylines. Has this possibly been the case? Definitely. Is it likely? Probably not. My feelings regarding this stem from the fact that the internet is loaded with character descriptions, storyline descriptions and other helpful aids for those readers who truly want to hop aboard a comic. Furthermore, characters such as Batman and Superman are so well known to the general audience, even their villains, that they are not difficult comics to come aboard on.  Proof of this actually resides with DCE’s competitor, Marvel, who, not too long ago, returned all their titles back to their original numbering. Series such as The Amazing Spiderman and the Uncanny X-men, are each still selling well over 50,000 copies. And while several of the top spots in Diamond’s monthly top 300 sales chart are occupied by low numbered comics, it is not due to the readability of those issues, but more due to their collectability and potential for profit. In a prior article of “Issues” called “Resurrecting the Dead: The Relaunch” a clear pattern is shown to emerge that proves that new number one’s only exhibit a short-term sales boost which, often, culminates in sales that fall below those of the series’ previous incarnation. Without a doubt, it was conclusively proven that it is the storylines that bring in new readers, not the issue number. Lastly, the issue with sales, currently, is not one of continuity, but economy.  Sales are falling across the board all over the industry, regardless of the issue number. With rising gas prices and high unemployment, people are looking for places where they can save money. Comics, unlike food, shelter, and transportation, is not an absolute necessity.  For this reason I am not sure how DCE’s increasing the number of their titles from thirty-eight in May to fifty-two is going to help.

            Another reason for DCE’s decision to reboot their titles was, according to DCE’s co-publisher, Jim Lee, “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience,” (Truitt). One should read into the words “Young” and “today’s audience” to mean that DCE is attempting to attract a younger audience to their books. While, I agree with the initial concept behind this, I cannot help but feel that it runs the risk of alienating their current readers. It is always easier to lose old readers than it is to gain new ones. The philosophy behind drawing in a younger audience is simple, eventually their current fans will grow old and either, have the burden of too many other expenses or die.  The customer base, for comics to survive, have to continually generate a new base of fans draw sales.  Those at DCE are hoping that by de-aging their characters they will prove more identifiable to younger readers. This may also be a reason why DCE may have nixed the marriage of Superman and Lois Lane.  Teenage boys are not thinking about marriage. In other words,  it does not fit with the teenage boy fantasy, which is what comic books, on some level, are all about fulfilling.  This is also the reason why DCE is making their comics available simultaneously for download.  Their feeling is that new readers may not feel comfortable entering into a comic book store and may want to, secretly, begin to buy comic books. The same may be said for women readers.  This was discussed in greater detail in the article “Demographics: Who We Are”.  

            Finally, and this is purely speculation on my part, DCE may have instituted these changes to make their comics fit, in both feel and look, with their television and movie counterparts. By having the characters, such as Superman, Batman and Hal Jordan, de-aged to their late twenties/early thirties, their ages become a closer approximation of their on screen personas. I am sure DCE was expecting big things from their Green Lantern movie and the actor who will be playing Superman, Henry Cavill(28yrs old),  in “Man of Steel” will also now be closer to Superman’s fictional age.  The concept behind this is that DCE thinks that audience members, who have enjoyed the movies, will want to see their portrayal of these characters’ reflected in the comics.  Again, it works on the assumption that main stream audiences can be persuaded to buy comics in sufficient numbers. A similar attempt was made by Marvel with their Ultimate line of comics.  Ultimate X-men even featured a taller Wolverine, like Hugh Jackman, and characters who wore costumes similar to their movie counterparts. Ultimate Spiderman was also meant to reflect Tobey Maguire’s portrayal in apparent age and characterization. Marvel’s Ultimate line actually met with great success for a lot of years. In fact Ultimate X-men #1 debuted with 117,000 copies sold in December of 2000 and Ultimate debuted with 54,000 copies sold only four months earlier. The X-men movie debuted in July, 2000.  I surmise that DCE is attempting to garner a similar level of success and is utilizing the concept behind the Ultimate line throughout their entire main line of comics. Also, by attempting to simplify their character’s origins, it will be easier to translate more of their characters onto film. If Jay Garrick and Alan Scott never existed, then the origins of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, become greatly simplified because their superhero counterparts’ origins will have only one version and one character linked to them.

            So these are the theories behind DCE’s reboot, so will it work? Now the first comparison most people bring up is Marvel’s Heroes Reborn and Heroes Return series that debuted in the late 90′s. During this experiment, Marvel had handed control over their titles for the span of a year to Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee. Heroes Reborn followed a storyline called Onslaught which saw the casts of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers and Fantastic Four enter into a pocket universe, which also restarted their continuity.  Heroes Return was a storyline that reinserted these characters back into Marvel Universe proper. This comparison proves erroneous for several reasons, but primarily because it was not a universe spanning change since it only affected these four titles. Also, it is just as possible that the talents involved, that being Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (both of whom were extremely popular at this time), affected these titles’ sales moreso than the reboot itself. Regardless, Heroes Reborn does seem to be one of the few avenues one can pursue for comparison. According to the numbers provided by John Jackson Miller, of Comichron.com, the Heroes Reborn line of comics actually showed great success with their sales. According to what Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld told Mr. Miller, “both said they were told direct market sales of the “Heroes Reborn” titles were at 30,000 copies before their run began,” (Miller). Miller also analyzed the Statements of Ownership for Iron Man leading up to its Heroes Reborn series and found that sales averaged 58,000. Statements of Ownership are the actual number of sales for the title, to the public, through all means of distribution.   When Iron Man was rebooted under the Heroes Reborn banner, its sales increased to 277,000 for its first issue and would experience a drop to 110,000 by the end of its run with issue thirteen. Other titles such as the now canceled Fantastic Four series, had an average of 103,000 copies sold the year before Heroes Reborn and during it would see its first issue reach 313,000 copies sold. By the end of its run, Fantastic Four still had sales of 130,000 copies. A similar story is told when one looks at the sales for the Avengers and Captain America. By the standpoint of sales alone, the Heroes Reborn experiment was a huge success. But why?

            It is quite possible that the huge uptick in the Heroes Reborn sales was due to the fact that they offered a new jumping on point for prospective readers. I do not believe that this is the reason, however.  Heroes Reborn represented more than just being a jumping on point, because it was the first time one of the big two had ever outsourced their characters to another company.  During this time period, Marvel was suffering through severe financial hardships due to a series of bad business decisions. For this reason they had these four titles produced by the folks over at Wildstorm comics, which, at the time, was a subsidiary of Image Comics. Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, who were both red hot at this time, were given creative control over these characters.  New Readers wanted to see what the Image creators would do with these classic Marvel characters. I believe it was also assumed, by the readers, that the handing off of these four titles to Image would be a longer term thing than it turned out to be.  I think the curiosity factor had more to do with the uptick in sales than the jumping on point. This would also explain why sales of each title would eventually hemorrhage more than half of their first issue sales. This suggests that once the readers’ curiosity was quenched, they grew tired of the experiment. Also, as mentioned in my article, “The Relaunch”, these are the sales made by the distributor from the comic shop owners, not the sales made by the fans. In other words, it is quite possible that the plummet in sales is due to the initial overly optimistic purchase of these comics made by the shop owners, and not the actual purchases made by the fans.  An example of this can be found when one looks at Iron Man during this period. It shows that, while Iron Man sold over 117,000 copies from the distributor on average during 1996, only 64,000 copies were purchased by the consumers on average(Miller 2). In other words, there was less interest in the titles than the shop owners anticipated. In summary, the success of Heroes Reborn had more to do with the conditions surrounding the reboot, more than with the reboot itself.

            A better comparison may be DC’s previous events such as Zero Hour and Crisis on Infinite Earths. Both these events attempted to create a universe spanning reboot.  Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, John Byrne updated Superman in a miniseries called “Man of Steel”, and Frank Miller did the same for Batman during “Batman: Year One”.  Unlike “Man of Steel”,  “Batman: Year One” was a storyline that occurred during the regular run of Batman- issues 404-407.  For Green Lantern, the reboot came in the form of a miniseries called Emerald Dawn in 1989. This was followed by a second miniseries and than a relaunch of its title. It is hard to gauge how successful this relaunch was because most of the sales figures are not available for this time period.  Perhaps one way to gauge how successful these reboots were can be found in how well people remember these stories. Byrne’s “Man of Steel” is considered one of the best Superman stories ever told, and Miller’s Batman: Year One is one of the stories credited with changing how people look at comics forever. According to Comichron, sales for Batman averaged 75,000 copies sold in 1985, increased to 90,000 in 1986(during Batman: Year One) and more than doubled to 193,000 in 1987 due, in no small part, to Miller’s Year One storyline bringing in new readers, (Miller Batman).  Just recently DCE announced that Batman: Year One would be the basis for their next animated Direct-to-video movie. Green lantern: Emerald Dawn is still very well remembered among Green Lantern, it produced a sequel and a series that would last 181 issues. The Flash, while its first issue is not as well remembered did have a series that lasted 247 issues. But was their success based on being a new jumping on point or because their stories were classics? Almost thirty years after the event people still talk about and reference the death of Barry Allen in Crisis On Infinite Earths #8.  The series was also referenced and used as a major marketing tool in promoting Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. I think what this shows is that if you tell good stories, people will come. Word of mouth on a good story is a stronger, and more consistent, predictor of sales than any gimmick/reboot. Green Lantern witnessed an uptick in sales from 62,000 copies sold with issue 17 of its current volume to over 100,000 copies sold during Blackest Night. Blackest Night was certainly NOT  a good jumping on point for new readers. The storyline rested on events that had been built up years earlier during the Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries that was released in 2004 (six years prior to Blackest Night).  To understand Green Lantern: Rebirth, you really had to be aware the events of Emerald Twilight, Final Night, Zero Hour, and Superman: Reign of the Supermen.  If the title eventually gained almost 40,000 copies in new sales, is it fair to assume that much of these sales were by consumers who had not read the previously mentioned storylines? What this shows is that people are willing to trudge through continuity heavy references, if the storyline is worthwhile.  There is a lesson here.

            Analyzing the success of Zero Hour has the same difficulties as with Crisis on Infinite Earths in that the sales figures for Zero Hour are not available. Zero Hour was an attempt by DC to correct any lingering continuity issues that were brought about by Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It promised to change many of the primary characters of the DCU, and rumors were swirling that the changes would be significant, such as changing the origins, potentially, of even Batman and Superman.  It is possible to get an idea of how successful the reboot was, by looking at what series that were launched as a result of it, actually survived. Beyond Starman, there really were not any new series to come out of Zero Hour that proved successful for any length of time. All in all 41 series received the zero issue treatment. Failures included, Anima(lasted 16 issues), Primal Force(14), Damage(20), Hawkman(launched a year earlier, 33), Manhunter (12), Xenobrood(6),  The Ray (28) and Outsiders(24), and Fate(22).  It is harder to tell how much of a boost it gave to established titles such as Green Lantern, Batman or Superman. What I do know is that DC only possessed 22% of the market share in January of 1995, which meant that it lost to Marvel by sixteen points.  This is only five months following the zero issue releases. The primary reason for the mild reception to this reboot? It is probably due to the unmemorable quality of these stories.  Few people probably even remember the zero issue stories of Superman, Batman or the Justice League.  Again it is not the jumping on point that is important but instead the stories that draw in new readers.

            So will the new DCNU succeed? In the short term- probably. It is very possible that orders will be quite large for the first issues of most of these titles, and, in many cases, will easily surpass those of the title’s previous incarnation. This has as much to do with speculation on behalf of store owners and investors as it does with any level of anticipation/curiosity surrounding the reboot. How short though, is hard to tell. Probably, with any title, the better the writing of the story in that issue, the longer it will be able to maintain its readership.  The largest obstacle that the reboot will have to overcome is the fact that they are increasing their run from 38 issues to 52.  The increase of fourteen titles will severely limit the number of readers who can stretch their budgets far enough to buy every title. It will also make it difficult for the store owner to buy multiple copies of each title. As far as I know, these titles will not be part of any type of buyback program. If they are, my summations in regard to this will have to be revised. Lesser titles such as Mister Terrific, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Voodoo, and Frankenstein: Agent of Shade, will probably be left behind by shop owners who are looking for ways to tighten their belts. Fifty-two titles is simply too much to ask of shop owners and the fans as well.  This many titles all out at once will actually force intra-company competition between the titles. DCE may actually find that even their established titles like Batman and Superman may find that their sales will be hurt, by having some readers buying other new titles out of curiosity; especially if they are feeling either angry about the reboot, or have become tired of a redundant storyline. What may happen is that, instead of increasing their readership, DCE will simply just be splintering it among more titles. This would prove catastrophic for DCE as well as the comic book community. One reason people buy comics, and try new ones, is that it offers a shared experience with other people with who they can now socialize.  There is, and needs to be, a social aspect to comics. Fans, for comics to survive, need to be able to talk comics with other fans.  It is also through this that comics get recommended to other prospective readers. The more the fan base becomes splintered, the more isolated the reader becomes, and the more likely they are to drop a title.

                Furthermore, it has become more than apparent that the anticipation for these new titles is not existing in any real quantity. Comic Book Resources has recently ranked the anticipation level of all fifty-two new titles, based on a vote by 10,181 fans. The rankings are “Absolutely will purchase, very likely, likely, unlikely, and not at all”.  The results show that there are only two titles, Action Comics and Justice League, that have an “absolutely will purchase” percentage over 50%.  This has less to do with the reboot, and more to do with the fact that Grant Morrison is writing Action Comics and Geoff Johns will be writing Justice League.  The other top performers were, “Green Lantern” (43.5%), “Batman” (47%) and “Aquaman” (34.5%),” (CBR). The only surprise here may be that Aquaman is at 34%. This is probably because it is a title that has been canceled for some time, so 1) there is not a storyline to interfere with, and 2) anticipation around the character may have been building.  Also, the character was placed in the forefront during the very popular mega-series called Brightest Day and lastly, it is being written by Geoff Johns. “Those titles either exemplify the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach DC has taken to the most profitable, popular elements of its line or contain contributions by DC’s top-selling writers Johns and Grant Morrison,” (CBR).  Only two titles, Green Lantern(Geoff Johns) and Batman pass the 50% plateau if you include those who are “very likely” to purchase the title.  If you are wondering, nine more titles surpass 50% if you include “likely” buyers as well. The majority of these additional titles are either part of the Justice League family of books, Batman or Green Lantern. For comparison, there are seventeen titles that fall into the “not at all” category with at least a 50% vote.  Twenty-four titles eclipse 50% if you include the “not likely” figures. Overall- not good.  While 10,000 may not be a sufficient voting segment to adequately gauge interest, it is definitely an indicator.  Those who have voted are more than likely comic book fans, very likely DC fans(which drew their interest to vote) and are probably at least those with a passing interest in comics. I doubt that DCE will generate enough new readers, from outside the current comic book readership, to improve significantly upon those figures. Also, when one looks at these numbers, the books that are doing the best, usually, have a creative team that if they had been attached to the current volume anyway, would have generated a noticeable sales boost, such as Brian Azzarello on Wonder Woman. These numbers seriously suggest that fans are either angry about the reboot, or simply are not interested in what DCE will be offering.

            DCE may also be cutting off their nose to spite their face.  How can DCE generate new readers for their titles? One way is to garner recommendations from the trusted comic book store owner.  There is a relationship between the store owner and their customers, that creates a level of trust. Customers will often try the book that the store owner is talking about. Instead of relying on this relationship; however, DCE is attempting to circumvent the store owner by offering their comics digitally simultaneously with the store release and for less money. The digital apps will probably be carrying a $1.99 price tag, compared with the print version at $2.99.  This is not a good sign for the store owners who are probably watching their business dwindle as it is. Perhaps Brian Michael Bendis said it best when he tweeted that the same day digital policy of DCE was, “____ing the struggling retail community in the ass,” (Newsarama). Pierce of Alter Ego had probably the most salient point on this subject when he said, “It feels a lot like the music industry doesn’t it?” he said. “How many Karma, Virgin or Sam Goody’s do you go to?…If people want to see the local comic shop stick around…they need to support brick and mortar stores,” (Rogers). The local comic shop(LCL) is the heart and soul of the industry and must be supported if comics are to survive. By hurting and/or alienating the LCL’s, DCE may find that store owners will become more hesitant to recommend their books to new readers. Why should LCL’s risk losing business to a digital store? Does it really matter to a LCL if their new customer gets hooked on Spiderman instead of Batman? And, as previously mentioned, this also hurts the communication between comic fans as well. DCE’s gambit that they can attract new readers by offering them the privacy of buying their comics online could very well backfire on them. I am not sure it will be worth it for them.            

            So what may DCE do to resolve this mess that they may have gotten themselves into? It is possible that the key is in the fact that they are releasing fifty-two titles. Fifty-two was also the name of their highly popular weekly comic that re-introduced to the DCU the multi-verse. Is it possible that if these titles do not sell well that DCE will announce that these titles really exist in a parallel universe, and will keep those that are successful in a line similar to the Ultimate line of Marvel? That way they can retreat back to the continuity their fans are happier with? If they do that they will seriously anger the remainder of their fan base, but if it is done quick enough, maybe they can salvage some of their sales. There is no denying that DCE is playing one hell of a gambit with this reboot.  If it works, they will all look like geniuses. If it fails, most them will probably be fired. One way or another, I am betting that the industry will never be the same again….and I do not mean that in the positive. Good luck DCE.

**************all statistics are provided by Comichron.com

Works Cited

CBR. “CBR Readers Rank The 52 DC Comics Relaunch Titles”. Comic Book Resources. 6-15-    2011, Comic Book Resources. 1995-2011.            http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=32809

Comic Vine. “Zero Hour”. http://www.comicvine.com/zero-hour/39-40782/

Miller, John Jackson. “Heroes Reborn vs. Heroes Return: Tale of Two Restarts”.  The        Comichron. John Jackson Miller. 2011. http://blog.comichron.com/2011/06/heroes-      reborn-vs-heroes-return-tale-of.html

            —– http://www.comichron.com/titlespotlights/ironman.html

            —– http://www.comichron.com/titlespotlights/batman.html

Newsarama. “Blogs”. Techmedianetwork 2011.  http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dcnu-same-  day-     digital-impact-110604.html

 Rogers, Vaneta. “DCNU Same-Day-Digital: A Digital Market Game Changer?”.  Newsarama. 6- 3-2011.  Techmedianetwork 2011.  http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dcnu-same-day-      digital-impact-110604.html

            —– “Comics Retailers Have Questions About DC’s New Plans”. 6-1-2011.  Newsarama.             http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dc-retailers-number-ones-110601.html

            —– “Harras, Berganza: DCNU Will Keep Much of DC History Intact”.  6-15-2011.              http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dcnu-bob-harras-eddie-berganza-history-in-tact-         110615.html

Truitt, Brian. “DC Comics Ready For A Risky Yet Relevant Publishing Change”. USA Today.     5/31/3011. USA Today. 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/2011-06-01-dc-            comics-why-the-change_n.htm




The Walking Dead #86 Review

Written by on Jun 26, 2011
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  No Comments »

The Walking Dead #86

Rating: 4/5
Publisher Name: Image/Skybound
Publisher Website: http://www.imagecomics.com/

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils: Charlie Adlard
Inks: Charle Adlard
Number of Pages: 32
Price: $ 2.99
Color: Black & White
Safety Content Label: T+ TEENS AND UP – Appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children.

Publisher’s Blurb:
How do we deal with what comes next?

Reviewer’s Comments:
For those of you who are not familiar with the story of the Walking Dead, it is about the lives of a handful of characters dealing with the post-zombie apocalypse. It is a series not about zombies, but about people. Recently, the characters had to deal with a breach in their wall, that allowed a horde of zombies to enter their town. This resulted in the deaths of several main characters(a hallmark of the series) and a serious injury to Carl, who is Rick’s (the main character) son and only reason for continuing. Issue 86 is about how people psychologically attempt to survive amongst tragedy.

In issue 86, really nothing happens. There is only the barest semblance of action. The story’s momentum is fueled entirely by the character’s interactions with one another. This has always been the series and Kirkman’s greatest strength- the way he writes his characters. Despite having a relatively large cast, each character feels genuine and unique. How they respond to each other also has the ring of truth to it. For instance, in the opening pages when Rick is sitting beside the bed of his comatose son, the reader can feel his excitement when Rick thinks that he saw his son move. The reaction of the doctor who knows what Carl’s moving really means, but also feels sympathy for Rick, is poignant. For 32 pages these characters do not feel fictional. Of equal weight and emotion is when Rick approaches Michonne is crouched beside the gravestone of Morgan, and man she was beginning to get attached to. Michonne’s reaction feels truly like it comes from a person who has, on the one hand, become accustomed to loss, but still is human and has feelings that still well up from where she thought she buried them. Then there is the talk between Andrea and Rick, which is also skillfully written. Each character has grown and developed along with the series.

Much of the emotion is brought about, as well, by the masterful pencilling of Charlie Adlard. Not only do his zombies look disgusting, but he is able to capture the moments that humanize each character. For instance, check out page twenty and the expression on Andrea’s face. Is there something more happening than what the dialogue conveys? Maybe. How about the double page of 22-23? Can you feel the dualality between the pleasant look of the houses, covered in the snow and the sun fading in the background, coupled with the dead bodies of zombies along the street? This all works to aid Kirkman in creating these characters as people who are fully dimensional.

It is the characters that drive this story. They are skillfully brought to life through the combination of great writing and talented artwork.


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